The ALS challenge craze has all but run its course. Our social media feed are no longer overwhelmed by short videos of people dousing themselves with freezing water, all for the name of giving. If you don’t know what the ALS Ice Bucket challenge is, here are a couple of examples from when some of our team participated. Here’s how it works: someone would get nominated by someone else who had just completed the challenge; they would have 24 hours to either dump a bucket of ice water over their head or donate $100 to an ALS charity. When it came down to it, many people dumped water and donated dollars as well. The effectiveness of the craze is undoubtable; the ALS association made an official statement which speaks to how effective it really was.
“Today, The ALS Association has topped $100 million in donations from people all over the globe who were moved to action by this summer’s Ice Bucket Challenge. As of August 29, the Association has received $100.9 million in donations compared to $2.8 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 29).” (ALSA)
That is truly incredible. That is around 4000% more giving. What if the church grew 4000%? I’m not just talking in the manner of nickels and dimes, but in all of the 5 Capitals. How much more effectively would we expand the Kingdom of God? There are many who criticize those who have done the ALS challenge or even the charities themselves, but I’m not going to talk about any of that. I want to just look at the simple truths that we can observe from this cultural moment. The church needs to learn from things like this, so we can be more successful in our mission.
1. Joyful Giving is Contagious
One of the greatest things about this challenge is that people were having fun with it. There is something contagious about people who are giving with joy. We as the church, and Christians everywhere, need to learn to give with that level of joy. So often we begrudgingly give our offerings. How can we look more like those who would give out of a place of joy, not duty? Let’s remember that we are giving to extend Kingdom of God, which is the most contagious thing in the world.
2. Effectiveness of Simplicity and Obviousness
The ALS challenge took off because it was so simple and obvious. The mission was simple: raise funds to help prevent a horrific illness that effects so many in our world. The method was obvious: Douse or Donate? Or Both? We in the church need to learn not to hide our agendas or purposes. We need to make our intentions clear. It won’t push people away, it will actually give people clear opportunities to chose Christ for themselves. The ALS Challenge had is a very valiant cause, but how much greater of a cause does The Church have. Often the problem is that we make our mission something too complicated or get caught up on side subjects. The church’s vision is simple and obvious: to save the world by making disciples who make disciples.
3. Utilization of Technology
Undoubtedly the reason the ALS had such a snowfall effect was that it was being shared on social media. We in the church need to not shy away from social media and technology in general. We should embrace every tool we can to spread The Gospel. Social Media is such an amazing tool, because many people use it every day, all day. I for one love that my feed was full of people doing something for others. Why can’t our feeds be filled that kind of kindness all the time?
4. Personal Calls to Action
The fact of the matter is that if people had nominated random people that they vaguely knew, the challenge would have stopped after the first bucket was poured. People stepped up to do the challenge because they were nominated by the people closest to them. The Church needs to empower and encourage people to do the same; the people closest to us should hear the gospel first.
5. Timing is Everything.
There is a saying that the most recent convert is the most effective evangelist. The ALS challenge kept going for so long because there was a defined time frame. Those who had just got nominated were nominating others within 24 hours. How can we as Christians empower those who are early on their journey with Christ to be Christ’s biggest advocate? We should have more people who don’t have it all together sharing their heart with those who they love, and we will see the gospel spread like wildfire.